All Tea Comes From One Species?

I was told the different styles of tea (i.e. Green Tea, Black Tea, and Oolong Tea) were just different ways of preparing the tea leaves by Tekman which I could accept. But a few days ago Cari told me that all tea leaves originate from the same species, which I couldn’t even force myself to believe. Even in each category of Green Tea, Black Tea, Oolong Tea, etc, there are way too many different kinds of tea and different tastes. Even within Chinese black teas, they all taste quite different. Even my dad wouldn’t believe all tea leaves are of the same species when I asked him about it today.

So I decided to do some research online. According to Wikipedia: Tea is produced from leaves and leaf buds of Camellia sinensis, the tea plant. All tea varieties, such as green, oolong, and black tea, are harvested from this species, but differ by processing. It just blows my mind to think that all teas are from the same species. Do note, there are still variations inside species, just like skin color, hair color, and eye color differentiation within the human species. If you want to see how green tea and black tea differ during the processing, you can read more about it at Wikipedia.

I still wasn’t too certain with this info, so I did so more searching and found these:

  • Tea Information and Types of TeaTea is basically the dried and processed leaves of only one species of plant called camellia sinensis. Interestingly enough, herbal teas or herbal infusions are not really teas, but simply dried flowers and/or herbs.
  • Generation Tea : Pu-erh Tea, Chinese Tea, Oolong Tea, Black TeaThe tea species Camellia sinensis produces all the varieties of tea. The processing ultimately determines the class of tea created. This is part of the mystique of tea.

This is just mind boggling! Some time later, we also began to question if coffee were all from the same species, which I personally thought had a higher probability of being from the same species than tea, but it turns out there are 2 species of beans that can be used to make coffee. According to Wikipedia: There are two main species of the coffee plant. Coffea arabica is the older of them. It is thought to be indigenous to Ethiopia, but as the name implies it was first cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula. It is more susceptible to disease, and considered by professional cuppers to be greatly superior in flavor to Coffea canephora (robusta), which contains about twice as much caffeine—a natural insecticide (paralyzes and kills some of the insects that attempt to feed on the plant) and stimulant— and can be cultivated in environments where arabica will not thrive. This has led to its use as an inexpensive substitute for arabica in many commercial coffee blends such as Folgers, Maxwell House and almost all instant coffee products. Compared to arabica, robusta tends to be more bitter, with a telltale “burnt rubber” aroma and flavor. Good quality robustas are used as ingredients in some espresso blends to provide a better “crema” (foamy head), and to lower the ingredient cost. In Italy many espresso blends are based on dark-roasted robusta.

2 thoughts on “All Tea Comes From One Species?

  1. While it is true that all tea comes from one species, Camellia Sinensis, a look at Yunnan Province and Fujian Province in China will reveal that there are actually hundreds, if not thousands, of sub species of tea, many of which will not cross with each other sexually. Fujian province appears to have the largest number of wild tea sub species of any where in the world, while Yunnan appears to have the three oldest living tea trees in the world. Yunnan also appears to have the oldest tradition of tea use.

    Think of tea plants as more like grapes, there are few species but a great many varietals. That is partly what produces the wide range of flavours in tea, but we must not discount the effects of terior and elevation and climate on the flavour of the tea. Certainly processing plays an important part in the tea flavour equation as well.

    Non-scientific online references:
    Fujian Tea: http://www.fzrm.com/Varieties%20of%20Tea%20tree.htm
    Yunnan Tea: http://www.tuochatea.com/history_of_yunnan_tea.htm

  2. hey, thanks for that insight…. you wont believe it but i had a school presentation today on tea production and from previous research had not discovered other species of tea other than camellia sinensis, during the question and answer session after the presentation, however, the question was brought up… i insisted that there is only one species and a member of the class who claims to originate from a tea producing area claimed there were other species and the lecturer asked me to go do further research on it…. so just when i was starting to think i’m crazy, i see your blog and i’m relieved… so thanks a bunch.

Leave a Reply